The 15 Best Remote Desktop Access Clients for Linux
Working from home comes with a lot of benefits but it also has its fair share of drawbacks. Let’s say you’re on vacation but you still want to get a bit of work done while you’re traveling. You could bring along a laptop, but a lot of the time you’re still going to need to access important documents or applications that can only be found on your home computer. So what do you do? Well, if you want to avoid these types of situations your best bet is to install a remote desktop client.
These types of applications are useful not only for people who tend to travel a lot but also for programmers, system administrators, or pretty much anyone else for that matter. Have you ever tried to teach your technologically challenged grandma how to create a Facebook account over the phone? It’s usually a huge hassle but you can take the easy way out by using remote desktop software to access her computer and quickly create the account for her.
Top 15 Best Remote Desktop Clients for Linux
If you’re a Linux user, it’s likely that your distro already has a built-in remote access tool that you can launch via the terminal. That said, we’re fully aware that a lot of people prefer working with more user-friendly tools and that’s why we put together a list of the best remote desktop clients for Linux you can download right now. Without further ado and in no particular order, let’s jump straight into it.
TeamViewer is a very popular remote desktop client that’s downloaded by over 400,000 people every single day. While the software was primarily aimed at Windows users at launch, nowadays you’ll find compatible versions for pretty much any operating system, including of course Linux. You can grab the Personal version of TeamViewer for free if you don’t mind having to deal with certain limitations. If you want to take advantage of everything the software has to offer, on the other hand, you’re going to have to look into one of the business packages. Prices range between €9.90 and €124.90 per month, billed annually.
TeamViewer is a very fast and secure remote desktop client that’s compatible with a wide variety of operating systems and devices. That means you can use your Linux computer to connect to Windows and macOS desktops or Android and iOS smartphones. The software comes with some other neat features like the ability to print files remotely and set up online meetings with up to 25 participants. If you’re going with the most expensive package, you’ll be able to initiate up to 12 remote work sessions at the same time using a single TeamViewer license.
Remmina is an open-source remote desktop client specifically designed for Linux. The software is easy to install on pretty much any distro if you follow the instructions found on the official website and you can even get it to run on Raspberry Pi devices. While perhaps not as visually appealing as something like TeamViewer, Reminna is a very reliable piece of software that offers good performance and includes support for most of the popular network protocols, including SSH, VNC, EXEC, SPICE, RDP, and more. Reminna is copylefted software (can be used, shared, and modified without restrictions) that can you can install for free, though the developers do accept donations from those who want to support the project.
One of the most useful features of Reminna is the ability to adjust the quality settings of your connection on the fly. This allows you to make the most out of the available bandwidth. Among other things, you can also change the color depth of the remote desktop, manage multiple remote sessions from a single window, toggle full-screen mode, configure the screen resolution of the remote desktop, and more. Reminna includes a very impressive array of features, especially when you consider its freemium nature. The only drawback is that you will have to install a few plugins in order to unlock all the available options.
3. VNC Connect
VNC Connect is a flexible screen sharing software that works on all major operating systems including Linux and Raspberry PI. The software is particularly suitable for file sharing and controlling remote desktops. You can expect a lag-free connection when accessing desktops anywhere in the world thanks to VNC Connect’s high-speed streaming capabilities. VNC Connect has one of the most beginner-friendly user interfaces we’ve come across and the security features are absolutely top-notch. VNC Connect is a premium product that will set you back anywhere between $3.34 and €33.34 per month. There’s no free version, however, you can test the product for free thanks to a 30-day trial.
As far as the features are concerned, you can expect full session encryption, team management capabilities, up to 10 concurrent sessions, cloud connectivity, and more. The software allows users to connect not just to desktops but also mobile devices running on Android and iOS operating systems. Another highlight of VNC Connect is the ability to access anyone’s desktop without installing remote access software on them first. This feature is very useful for IT support specialists and anyone else who needs to connect to a remote computer without leaving any software behind. Naturally, the recipient still needs to allow the connection, so the feature can’t be used for malicious purposes.
Vinagre is quite similar to Remmina in many ways but comes with more features and is primarily aimed at GNOME-based desktop environments. While fairly minimalistic, the user interface is well designed and free of clutter. There are multiple protocols to choose from like SSH, VNC, SPICE, and RDP, along with a very useful Find button that automatically scans for active servers on your local network. Of course, you can also connect to remote desktops that are not part of your network, including those running on Windows or other non-Linux operating systems. Like most of the remote desktop clients featured on this list, Vinagre is available to download and install for free.
Vinagre offers a few handy options you can select before you open a remote session. For instance, you can start the session in full-screen mode or scale the remote desktop to fit the one you’re currently using while keeping the aspect ratio intact. The software also lets you choose the depth color of the remote desktop, take screenshots, bookmark activate connections, enable JPEG compression, simultaneously open multiple connections, and more. Vinagre doesn’t come with as many advanced features as other screen sharing clients and doesn’t allow you to change most settings while the connection is active. But if all you’re looking for is a minimalistic client that can handle basic activities that involve remote access, you certainly won’t be disappointed by what Vinagre has to offer.
5. Zoho Assist
If you’re in the market for a powerful remote desktop software designed for IT specialists and regular users alike, Zoho Assist might be exactly what you need. The client allows you to initiate unattended remote support sessions on any desktop computer regardless of its operating system. You do need to first install a remote agent on the computers you want to connect to, but once you do, you can initiate sessions at any time without having to ask permission. Although free to try for up to 15 days, Zoho Assist is a premium screen sharing software, so you’ll need to pay for it once the trial expires. Luckily, the software is fairly priced and will only set you back between €8 and €21 per month.
There are two versions of Zoho Assist to choose from – Unattended Access and Remote Support. With Unattended Access you gain the ability to record sessions, print documents remotely, transfer files, access mobile and IoT devices in addition to desktops, and more. Meanwhile, Remote Support comes with many of the same features along with the ability to initiate up to 6 simultaneous sessions, communicate via voice or video chat, create custom reports and session audits, and integrate with Zendesk, to name just a few noteworthy features. In addition to being feature-rich, Zoho Assist is also very secure. You can expect two-factor authentication, SSL encryption, and compatibility with most antivirus software.
NoMachine is another popular remote desktop client that you can use on Linux, Raspberry Pi, smartphones, and many other types of devices. The software gives quick and secure access to remote computers along with all the drives and devices connected to them. NoMachine incorporates NX-based technology that makes it possible to stream high-resolution video and audio without any noticeable latency. Not only can you watch Netflix or YouTube using NoMachine but you can even play video games on PC and Mac. The standard version of NoMachine is completely free with no strings attached, which is pretty amazing given the quality of the product. That said, NoMachine does offer an improved version of the software designed for enterprises with prices starting at $44.50 per month.
NoMachine’s user interface is very well designed and doesn’t distract you from what really matters – connecting to your remote computer. Speaking of which, you are greeted by a short tutorial on how to achieve that goal when you boot up the client, which is a very nice touch. As far as options are concerned, you can choose between NX and SSH protocols, set size limits for file transfers, set specific frame rates and display encoding methods on the remote desktop, gain control over everything from disks and printers to USB devices and network ports, require permission to let remote users interact with the desktop, and more.
TigerVNC is a simple yet very powerful implementation of Virtual Network Computing (VNC), a desktop-sharing system that lets users interact with applications on remote computers. You can reliably use the software for tech support, administration, education, and a wide variety of other purposes. TigerVNC scores pretty well in the performance department and isn’t doing too shabby when it comes to security either. The client encrypts all traffic by default using TSL encryption but if that’s not secure enough for your needs, you can always switch to a more specialized protocol like X509Vnc. TigerVNC is an open-source project and a completely free application for both personal and commercial use.
Despite missing some key features like file transferring and the ability to connect to mobile devices, TigerVNC makes up for it with good speed, reliability, and an intuitive user interface. You can run view-only or full-screen sessions on the remote desktop set the encoding method and color depth, save configuration data for individual connections, and more. TigerVNC focuses almost entirely on remote display functionality and performance, which is why it doesn’t include quite as many interesting features as other similar clients. But TigerVNC is certainly very good at what it does so don’t hesitate to give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
KRDC is another minimalistic remote desktop client aimed specifically at Linux users, especially those who are using a K desktop environment (KDE). The client can be used to monitor and control certain aspects of a remote machine. While generally used for desktop-to-desktop sessions, KRDC can also connect to other types of devices, as long as they’re running a compatible server. The software supports the VNC and RDP protocols, the latter of which is usually associated with Windows, but also works on Linux and other operating systems. KRDC is a completely free piece of software with no premium version, though you can donate to the project if you want to support the developers.
If you enjoy simple and straightforward user interfaces you’re going to love KRDC. There’s absolutely no clutter here and while the features aren’t exactly plentiful, there is a decent amount of options for you to play with. You can scale the remote desktop to your liking, configure the quality of the connection, launch full-screen sessions, set the client to remember open sessions for the next system startup and more. The options are overall pretty basic but the software is fast and reliable and a lot of the time that’s all you really need.
If you’re looking for a decent alternative to TigerVNC look no further than this little screen sharing application. The two clients are very similar at first glance but TightVNC comes with its own share of pros and cons. For instance, file transfers are only available with the Windows version while the performance can be hit or miss, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. You won’t have issues performing basic tasks like viewing text documents or PDFs but TightVNC’s connection is often not solid enough to allow you to watch videos and play games without significant latency. Getting a public license for TightVNC won’t cost you a thing but commercial licenses need to be purchased.
In spite of its shortcomings, TightVNC does have a couple of decent selling points. One of the most important ones is that TightVNC comes equipped with a Java viewer, which is a feature that’s usually not included by remote desktop clients for Linux. There’s also a clean and simple user interface that comes with a single-window for customizing the parameters of your connections. There’s no need to stumble around various tabs to find what you need. On the flip side, the software isn’t able to automatically detect servers running on your network, so IP addressed need to be added manually.
10. KDE Connect
KDE Connect is a bit different than all the other screen sharing applications we talked about so far, but that’s exactly why we love it. The software was primarily designed to allow users to control their desktops from their mobile devices and vice-versa. KDE Connect can’t be used for desktop-to-desktop connections, which makes it a bit more limited when compared to some of our other picks. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better piece of software for smartphone-to-desktop connections. KDE Connect is completely free and available on everything from Linux and Windows to Android devices, Plasma Mobile, and SailfishOS.
KDE Connect comes with a very long list of useful features. For example, you can use the software to control music playing on your desktop from your phone, share files and links between the two devices, send SMS from your desktop, use your mobile device as a remote control for your computer, receive phone notifications on your desktop, and so much more. The client supports browser integration so you can use your phone as a remote control even for things like Netflix or YouTube. While a bit tricky to set up, KDE Connect can be configured to work in conjunction with a VPN client.
X2Go is a somewhat streamlined version of NoMachine that comes with fewer features and a more minimalistic user interface. The application uses NoMachine’s proprietary NX3 technology, which is considered by many to be faster and more reliable than the RDP and VNC protocols. X2Go supports connections between Linux, Windows, and macOS machines but doesn’t work with mobile devices at this time, which is a bit of a shame. On the bright side, the software is entirely free on all available platforms and its developers seem very active, so expect new updates at regular intervals.
X2Go is suitable for both low and high bandwidth connections, can support as many simultaneous users as the computer’s resources will allow, and lets you to select from a variety of desktop environments like MATE, GNOME, KDE, and more. File sharing and printer sharing are both supported as well, however, only from client to server, not vice-versa. The security features aren’t anything to write home about but the traffic is tunneled over SSH so you’re definitely getting at least some form of encryption for your connection. All in all, X2Go is a pretty solid remote desktop client for Linux, especially if you’re looking for something that’s similar to NoMachine.
Initially launched as Screen For X back in the day, Xpra is a multi-platform screen sharing client that gives you access over individual applications or full desktops on remote computers. The software is compatible with X11 servers, Windows, and macOS. One of the big selling points here is that Xpra allows you to repeatedly connect and disconnect from the application without losing any state. Your progress isn’t lost regardless of whether you’re reconnecting from the same machine or a different one. In addition, Xpra is yet another open-source project that you can download for free with no strings attached.
If your internet connection isn’t particularly stable you’re going to love Xpra because the software can constantly adapt to changing network bandwidth constraints. Similar to most of the other remote desktop clients on this list, Xpra lets you forward sound, clipboard, and printing services, along with certain applications and services. If you’re worried about security, you can initiate sessions over SSH or password protect them over TCP complete with SSL.
13. Apache Guacamole
Apache Guacamole is a very popular remote desktop gateway that uses a clientless system. What this means is that you don’t need to use an application to launch and configure remote connections. Once you install Apache Guacamole on the server, you can access remote machines via a web browser. This is thanks to the fact that Guacamole uses HTML5-powered connections, which tend to be considered less secure by some users. However, there’s no denying that initiating remote sessions via a browser is very convenient. Besides, the software also supports standard protocols like RDP, VNC, and SSH. Guacamole is available for free and features cross-platform compatibility between Linux and Windows operating systems.
One of the most interesting features offered by Apache Guacamole is the ability to access desktops that are hosted on the cloud. Combine the convenience of web-based clients with being able to connect to desktops that don’t physically exist and you’ve got a very flexible piece of software on your hands. The main downside is that there aren’t a whole lot of interesting settings to play around with. However, you can open multiple connections simultaneously and interact on the remote machines with everything ranging from media players and games to drives and printers.
AnyDesk needs very little introduction as the remote desktop software is up there with the likes of TeamViewer in terms of popularity. This is one of the fastest, most reliable, and most secure clients of its kind, with an estimated user base of well over 100 million downloads. AnyDesk also has great multi-platform support and cross-compatibility between a wide range of operating systems including Linux, macOS, Windows, Raspberry Pi, and FreeBSD along with Android and iOS mobile devices. As you might expect from a software like this, AnyDesk is free for personal use but also offers paid plans. A business license will set you back anywhere between €8.49 and €41.99 per month.
AnyDesk has an extremely lightweight client that takes up just 3MB of storage and an intuitive user interface that’s a real pleasure to work with. Among the more interesting features, you can find things like mobile to PC remote control, unattended access, file transfer, remote printing, auto-discovery, and more. Naturally, the paid versions come with significantly better functionality and include things like unlimited concurrent sessions, admin features, session logging, and the ability to set up a custom namespace, among other things.
15. Remote Access Plus
Remote Access Plus is a premium application designed primarily with enterprises in mind. While there’s nothing stopping regular users from trying it out, Remote Access Plus is fairly difficult to recommend to anyone who isn’t a system administrator, help desk technician, or who doesn’t have some sort of IT-centric job. That’s because the software can be pretty expensive for a lot of people, with basic standard licenses starting at $75 per year while a professional one will cost you at least $95. The good news is that Remote Access Plus does come with a free 30-day trial, which makes it a viable option for certain short-term projects.
If you’re not really worried about money and are looking for a reliable solution for accessing desktops remotely, you’ll find that Remote Access Plus is pretty much as good as it gets. You can expect to be able to manage files remotely, gain access to voice, video, and text chat, create reports, shut down remote computers, and more. The software also allows remote access to drives and printers, command prompts, task managers, registry keys, and event viewers, among other things. And to top it all off, you can even boot up computers remotely. In other words, with Remote Access Plus, you gain complete control over pretty much everything.
We decided to go with only 15 remote desktop clients because we didn’t want to overwhelm readers by including too many options. That said, there are certainly a few more clients out there you could try. They may not be as well-known as the ones featured on the main list, but we think they are worth checking out regardless. Our honorable mentions are as follows:
A remote desktop client can be invaluable in many situations. There are obvious examples like IT support and system administration but those are barely scratching the surface. This type of software is extremely useful for accessing your own devices while traveling and for helping less tech-savvy users with installing or configuring applications, creating accounts, printing documents, and a wide variety of other tasks. In addition, remote desktop software can also come in handy for collaborating with people on work-related projects or, in some instances, watching movies and playing video games together with friends.
While some of the clients we talked about in this article may seem awfully similar to one another, each and every single one of them has certain unique features that allow it to stand out from the crowd. If you don’t want to take any chances, you can always go with a popular choice like TeamViewer or AnyDesk, however, keep in mind that many of their advertised features are actually locked behind a paywall. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to check out one (or several) of the many open-source remote desktop clients available entirely for free. Some of them may seem pretty basic at first glance but you will be surprised by how fast and reliable they usually are.
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